Ron: “America’s housing policy needs a major remodel”

Calling the need to increase affordable housing supply in Oregon and nationwide “urgent business,” Ron spoke last week in Portland about his work with Sen. Maria Cantwell to achieve that increase by enhancing and improving the federal low-income housing tax credit.

In addition to holding a news conference with Cantwell on July 22 at The Magnolia apartments in Northeast Portland about the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, the two senators also toured the mixed-income building where units rent in a range of 30-60 percent average median income.

America’s housing policy needs a major remodel,” Ron said at the news conference before the senators toured a one-bedroom unit, an outdoor resident garden and a barber shop that’s in the Magnolia’s retail space.

The program we seek to build on has already been a major success, and has the potential for much more,” said Ron, an original sponsor of the low-income housing tax credit bill introduced recently by Senators Cantwell and Orrin Hatch. “We have got to make sure that Americans can get a place at night where they can safely and comfortably lay their heads.”

The low-income housing tax credit has provided financing for more than 37,000 affordable homes in Oregon since the credit went into effect 30 years ago. Nationwide during that same time period, that credit has helped to finance the development of about 2.8 million affordable homes.

Boosting by 50 percent the annual amount of low-income housing credits to Oregon and other states, Ron said, is “urgent business” at a time when more than 160,000 Oregon households are paying more than half their incomes in rent and when the number of children and families experiencing homelessness continues to grow.  

Ron also spoke at the July 22 news conference about two other affordable housing initiatives he’s been working on in tandem with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.

One of those initiatives is his bill that would provide first-time homebuyers with up to a $10,000 refundable tax credit.  This credit would equal 2.5 percent of the home purchase with the maximum credit reached at homes selling for $400,000 – roughly the average home price in Portland.

The second initiative is a bill he’s finalizing to help middle-income Americans get better access to affordable rental properties.  That bill, to be released in September, will encourage housing developers to build more affordable rental properties for middle-income families through a new tax credit.  

Ron’s tour and news conference in Portland followed eastern Oregon town halls he held earlier in the week in Grant, Harney and Malheur counties.